At the beginning of every month, Denver's creative community front-loads the calendar with an abundance of appealing events. As First Friday and Saturday celebrations pop up all over the state, galleries and museums open their doors to the curious crowds to show off their latest exhibitions. In addition to more visual art than one human could possibly see in a weekend, the days ahead offer every manner of entertainment, including a canonical symphony, a pinball tournament, a standup-comedy drinking game and even kitten therapy. Even the staunchest penny-pinchers can find something to do this lively weekend, as anybody can attend the following ten events for $10 and under. Better yet, six of them are free and open to the public.
Colorado Music Festival: Zeitouni Conducts Mahler’s Ninth
Thursday, August 3, 7:30 p.m.
Since 1976, the Colorado Music Festival has filled the summer months with the tuneful stylings of the finest conductors, musicians and composers from every corner of the world. The festival's reputation for world-class elegance continued throughout its 2017 season, with a series of performances that breathed joyous life into the centuries-old compositions of the classical-music canon. While it's all winding down soon, classical music aficionados still have a few more chances to see great works in Boulder's historic Chautauqua Auditorium. Join festival music director and world-class conductor Jean-Marie Zeitouni as he leads the CMF Orchestra through a rousing performance of Gustav Mahler's otherworldly Symphony No. 9 in D Major. Often cited as a bridge between the Romantic and Modern eras, Mahler's Ninth is as stirring today as it was when it first premiered. Member admission starts at $9 on Chautauqua's box office page.
Write Club Denver: Battle Royale
Thursday, August 3, 8 p.m.
Syntax Physic Opera
Though writers typically seem like a harmlessly bookish bunch, a fierce sense of competition lurks beneath our tweedy and bespectacled facades. Write Club Denver, a self-described "literary thunderdome," puts that subtext into the spotlight with a series of head-to-head competitive readings from Denver-based authors, performers and creatives. Using royal themes as a springboard, the first round pits Cory Byrom against Naomi Kelsey, followed by Colin Iago McCarthy versus Jessie Hanson and then Mitch Slevc versus Eryc Eyl in the second and third rounds. All proceeds from the event will be donated to a charity of the victor's choosing. Visit the Facebook event page to learn more.
Denver Art Society First Friday
Friday, August 4, 5-11 p.m.
Denver Art Society
The First Friday of the month means a gauntlet of galleries and arty parties all across the state, but a stroll through Denver's Santa Fe Arts District remains the gold standard. While galleries lining the thoroughfare open their doors to the public for free, there's no better hub for the lively art walk than the Denver Art Society. DAS will present live local music until 11 p.m.; guests can also marvel at a suspended artwork installation from Jason Bushey and murals by Grace Noel. To find out more, visit the Denver Art Society online.
RiNo First Friday: Kitten Therapy
Friday, August 4, 6-9 p.m.
RiNo Art District Headquarters
While the competition is steep, the lively River North Art District offers one of the city's best art walks along with an abundance of hip bars and gourmet restaurants. It has something special planned for August, however. Kitten Therapy, wherein the stressed-out can simmer down in the adorable company of baby cats, improbably yet gloriously does exist, and it's happening on Friday, August 4, at RiNo Art District headquarters (2901 Blake Street, Suite 165) from 6 to 9 p.m. Whether you're looking to adopt your own rescued feline friend or merely livening up your art walk with some cuddles, everyone could benefit from a little kitten therapy. Visit the RiNo Art District online for more details.
Free First Saturday
Saturday, August 5
Denver Art Museum
For artsy Denver residents in the know, the arrival of a new month also means another Free First Saturday at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway. Admission to all of the museum's non-ticketed exhibitions is free and open to the public; you can enjoy exciting new exhibits nearly every month, as well as the world-class permanent collection, which showcases everything from Pre-Columbian artifacts to paintings by Claude Monet and Winslow Homer. Even the museum itself is a work of art; just walking through the Gio Ponti- or Daniel Libeskind-designed buildings is worth braving the increased crowds. The DaM is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; visit denverartmuseum.org to learn more.
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Designated Drunkard: A Comedy Drinking Game
Saturday, August 5, 7 p.m.
El Charrito's Comedy RoomRoom
After participating in a comedy scene for long enough, viewers who see comics perform over and over will learn not only their jokes, but also their tics and idiosyncrasies. Sexpot Comedy's Designated Drunkard: A Comedy Drinking Game has turned these observations into a rib-tickling and liver-pickling standup showcase. Co-produced by two open-mic hosts — Caitie Hannan and Byron Graham, who've both watched an inadvisable amount of local comedy — the format is fairly simple: Hannan and Graham write down their notes about each comic on a large easel pad and prompt the audience to drink each time the comic on stage says or does something on their list. Throughout the show, one of the hosts remains on stage in the role of Designated Drunkard to guide the audience and generally make a drunken spectacle of themselves. Inspired by "Wait, What?" a similarly boozy brouhaha run by New Orleans comics Geoffrey Gauchet and Isaac Kozell, few shows achieve the same level of bacchanalian abandon. In August, the duo welcomes local comics Josh Skillman, Jill Tasei and JD Lopez, along with Shanna Christmas from Las Vegas and headliner Jay Gillespie. Tickets, $5, are available via Nightout.
30th Annual Beaver Creek Arts Festival
August 5-6, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Beaver Creek Village
While there are plenty of museum and gallery events right here in the city, the mountains beckon with their own artsy extravaganzas, such as the 30th Annual Beaver Creek Arts Festival. Over 100 local and international jury-selected artists flock to Beaver Creek Village for a massive outdoor art gallery lined with shopping treasures. In addition to a staggering variety of paintings, sculptures, photography, jewelry and ceramics, all of the participating artists will be on site throughout the festival, and many will offer demonstrations. Leashed and well-behaved pets are welcome, and there's a complimentary shuttle from the parking lot. Visit artfestival.com to learn more.
Blissfest333 International Film Festival
August 5-6, 12-5 p.m.
Alamo Drafthouse Sloan's Lake
$10 Per Block
Cinephiles, unite: The Blissfest333 International Film Festival premieres at the Sloan's Lake Alamo Drafthouse on Saturday and Sunday. Screening some of the finest local and international films, Blissfest333 finds a harmonious unity among the gems of world cinema. A testament to creativity and individuality, the Blissfest333 International Film Festival celebrates achievements in filmmaking while endeavoring to build community on a local and global scale. Showtimes run from noon to 5 p.m., and admission is $10 per block, $25 for a full-day pass and $40 for both days. Visit Blissfest333 online for information, and Film Freeway to buy tickets.
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Mutiny Youth Pinball
Sunday, August 6, 2 p.m.
Mutiny Information Cafe
Evolving from bagatelle, Japanese billiards and pachinko, pinball machines were among the world's earliest arcade games. Although their relatively simple design has been updated with various bells, whistles and narrative objectives, pinball machines still offer the same whiz-bang thrill that they did in their heyday. Rediscover the joy of the game while introducing it to a new generation at Mutiny Youth Pinball, starting at 2 p.m., on Sunday, August 6. Engage in a little friendly competition as you and your loved ones try to rack up high scores on Mutiny's selection of pinball machines. The player with the highest total at the end of the day wins a special secret prize. Visit the Facebook event page to learn more.
Rebel Yell With Aaron Urist
Monday, August 7, 8 p.m.
Rebel Yell, a free monthly standup-comedy showcase held at the trendy RiNo eatery and watering hole Rebel Restaurant has been shuffling along for a couple of months now, and it's returning in high style with a lineup packed full of the city's finest chortle-mongers. Hosted and curated by Allison Rose, August's Rebel Yell will present Rachel Weeks (Pussy Bros), Jose MaCall (Mutiny Open Mic), Zach Welch (Denver Bicycle Cafe Open Mic and Showcase) opening for headliner Aaron Urist (Power Move). Want some vittles to stick to your tickled ribs? The restaurant will offer a wings special during the show. Admission is free; visit Rebel Yell's Facebook page to learn more.
Looking for more to do? Go to the Westword calendar.